I seriously went back and forth about posting tonight. So many people are already blogging up a storm about the canonization of our two beloved popes. I think that's great! I'm just not feeling very moved to write about it, likely because so many others are doing such a great job.
So if you're interested to learn more about the canonizations, I direct your attention to Father Robert Barron's Word From Rome.
Also, as a complete aside, did anyone know that this movie even existed? Cary Elwes and Jon Voight come together to tell the story of Pope (now Saint) John Paul II. Awesome!
Anyway, if you're up for hearing me talk about the image and feast of Divine Mercy, then grab some popecorn (see what I did there?) and stick around.
Saint Faustina was a humble, quiet nun who received visions of Christ and the Blessed Mother. She was ordered to keep a journal of these visions. Her journal, now known as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul, was my reading material of choice during the time of my reversion.
I learned so much about true virtue while reading her conversations with Jesus, especially the value of obedience and humility (things I still struggle with today).
Anyway, this image has always been one of my favorites of Jesus. He said "My gaze from this image is like My gaze from the Cross."
Think for a moment. In the image above, Christ's Face is not one of anger or judgement; His Countenance is one of mercy. He is looking intently into your eyes, seeking your soul. He was suffering and dying FOR YOU. There is nothing but you and Christ when looking at this image. Nothing. His Sacred Heart issues forth Blood (red) and water (blue) - the same Blood and water that poured forth when His Heart was lanced by the centurion at the Crucifixion.
He gave us everything unto the very last drop of Himself so that we might regain our inheritance. That's mind-bogglingly insane. Yet that is our God. His love is, quite honestly, boundless. He loves us wholly and completely and will abandon Himself fully so that we can be come home.
In this image Jesus comes to us dressed as a servant. It is an alb, the same that priests wear under their chasuble. It was the same undergarment that Jesus wore at the Last Supper when He cleaned the feet of His apostles. It is the garment of a lowly servant - a slave. We don't recognize it as servant attire because we associate it so closely with religious life.
In order to understand the importance and depth of this image, though, we need to understand the importance and depth of this clothing choice. Christ, as Divine Mercy, is coming to us as a servant... a slave. This is GOD - the Creator of all - coming to us not as a king, not as a celebrity, not as a warrior. His unfathomable love incarnated Itself to become a slave to all of humanity. He bore the weight of our sins and accepted Divine Wrath (as payment for Divine Justice) so we would not have to. Thus, His Mercy comes to us in the form of a servant. Mercy does not seek to judge as a king, to seek glory as a celebrity nor to seek vengeance like a warrior. Instead, He extends forgiveness and love - always love.
How does He extend this love? While pointing to His Sacred Heart, the source of such incredible, self-consuming love, He pours out His very self. His Precious Blood is the essence of His Life; the water is the essence of His Holy Spirit, poured out as if to baptize the world unto Himself.
I love that the background is black - His Mercy comes when it looks like there is no other hope. Even in the black of night, the pits of despair, His rays of Mercy extend, lighting the way to reach Him.
His Hand is raised not in judgement, but in blessing.
The words "Jesus, I trust in You" are written in gold. This faith in His Mercy is like a priceless diamond to Him. How much Jesus wishes that we would call out to His Mercy!
He told to St. Faustina, "[Let] the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy towards tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy."
Just... wow, right?
So with that in mind, take a good long look at this image today. Take time to say some prayers of thanksgiving for God's gift of Mercy. Mercy that extended unto coming down from paradise to know misery, torture and death so that we may gain Heaven.
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